Friday, September 27, 2002

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WHY DO THEY FEAR US?: Andrew Sullivan says, "At some point, I'd better get a deeper understanding of why some find American power so deeply deeply frightening. Even to the extent that they'd prefer to uphold the tyranny in Iraq than invoke the forces that could end it. I don't get it; and perhaps I never will."

I'm a little surprised by Sullivan's lack of comprehension here. It doesn't matter if we claim that we're on the side of goodness and light -- other nations will fear us because they cannot prevent us from doing whatever we want. On this question, the realists are correct -- acquire enough power, and match it with a willingness to project that power, and other nations will start to act in a prickly manner.

This is the one part of the realist opposition to current policy that I can't rebut -- as the U.S. evinces more aggressive intentions, even if those intentions are designed to promote a just order, it will encourage other countries to balance against us in world politics. From the outside, our intentions now seem aggressive just as our capabilities dwarf everyone else. Furthermore, as the National Security Strategy makes clear, the administration does not want any other country to approach our level of power. While the U.S. was perceived as an insular republic reluctant to get involved in world affairs, we could pull off the high-wire act of being the hegemon without triggering massive resistance. With our current posture, however, that's impossible.

I still think there are good reasons for attacking Iraq. But I'd like to see a little more of the "humility" Bush talked about during the 2000 campaign.

P.S.: Here's InstaPundit's take on the question.

posted by Dan on 09.27.02 at 09:47 AM